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Edith Stein, a German Jew who became a Catholic in 1922 and a Carmelite nun (Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) in 1934, died in the gas chamber at Auschwitz on this date in 1942. Stein received a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Göttingen in 1916, then became a faculty member at the University of Freiburg. She was strongly anti-Nazi in sentiment, and in a 1933 letter to Pope Pius XI she described herself as a “child of the Jewish people” and called on the church to “raise its voice to put a stop to this abuse of Christ’s name.” Edith Stein was beatified as a martyr in 1987 by Pope John Paul II and then canonized by him in 1998. In 1984, Cardinal Macharski, archbishop of Cracow, announced the establishment of a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz, which was protested by the Jewish community worldwide. John Paul II resolved the issue by relocating the convent and its crucifixes across the road in 1993. To visit a site about the “War of the Crosses” at Auschwitz, click here.
“For weeks we have seen deeds perpetrated in Germany which mock any sense of justice and humanity, not to mention love of neighbor. For years the leaders of National Socialism have been preaching hatred of the Jews... But the responsibility must fall, after all, on those who brought them to this point and it also falls on those who keep silent in the face of such happenings. ” —Sister Teresa Benedicta